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Archive for the ‘Creative Process/Journey’ Category

Newsweek Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the “Torrance kids,” a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, “How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?” He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist’s session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn’t the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have “unusual visual perspective” and “an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products.”

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

In the 50 years since Schwarzrock and the others took their tests, scholars—first led by Torrance, now his colleague, Garnet Millar—have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded. They tallied the books, dances, radio shows, art exhibitions, software programs, advertising campaigns, hardware innovations, music compositions, public policies (written or implemented), leadership positions, invited lectures, and buildings designed.

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Excerpted from Barry Schwartz’s TED talk – The Real Crisis – We’ve Stopped Being Wise.

“Rules and procedures may be dumb but they spare you from thinking.
When things go wrong as of they do, we reach for two tools to try to fix them. One tool we reach for is rules, better ones, more of them. The second tool we reach for is incentives, better ones, more of them. What else, after all, is there?

The truth is that neither rules or incentives are enough to do the job. Rules and incentives make things better in the short run but they create a downward spiral that makes them worse in the long run. Moral skill is chipped away by an over-reliance on rules that deprives us of the opportunity to improvise and learn from our improvisations, and moral will is undermined by an incessant appeal to incentives that destroy our desire to do the right thing.

An example is the nature of modern education – scripted, lock-step curricula. The scripts are there because we don’t trust the judgment of teachers enough to let them lose on their own. Curricula scripts are insurance polices against disasters and they prevent disaster but what they insure in its place is mediocrity.”

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Eight Ways to Promote Social and Emotional Learning in Your Adolescent

Posted using ShareThis

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In response to these two articles.

(Fairy Tales and Adolescence and Robert Epstein’s book The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the adult in Every Teen)

There is growing discussion about whether adolescence is an “invented” phenomenon. To some degree everything about us (human beings) is invented and reinvented as we attempt to label, make sense and ultimately control the human experience.

As children, we are attached to our parents worlds of feeling and thought and do not see ourselves reflectively – from the outside looking in.

Adolescence begins with the conscious emergence of the unconscious mind. This two minds -the conscious and the unconscious mind – at work within us is discomfiting. It’s difficult to know which to trust when you have no experience, practice and no concrete idea who you are. As a result, unsupported adolescents often become afraid of their own thoughts, themselves and what they imagine they are capable of or they magically tune that aspect of themselves off.

Adults typically know themselves and are grounded in the knowledge experience brings.

It’s complicated business leaving the security of childhood. There is a sudden onslaught of cognitive, emotional, physical change that creates an exciting but frightening time of disequilibrium. Yet, we have arrived at our richest most creative period of our lives with little knowledge of how to proceed.

Why does adolescence seems to drag on as some suggest. Quite honestly, who would want to rush headlong into an adulthood that clearly is weighted with responsibility, control and lack of freedom and creativity?

Maybe prolonged adolescence has more to do with education. Our children do not grow up in school. Their social and emotional developmental needs are not supported as education is focused solely on cognition. The rest of development is up for grabs. As a result, many high school graduates leave school “ready to party” because experience and breaking free is a powerful developmental need that needs satisfying.

Finally, in the end, we need to experience life in order to know who we are. Adolescents cannot “get real” in books, on graph paper or by watching movies. They need to enter the fray of their own lives reflectively, constructively and creatively.

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We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.     Galileo

The teacher, if indeed wise, does not bid you to enter the house of their wisdom, but leads to the threshold of your own mind.     Gibran

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You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. ~ Navajo Proverb

  • I think you can with creativity and the right mixture of openness and attention. We sleep to hide from the world. Are our children asleep in school because it lacks human vitality and interconnection? Are they “learning habits of avoidance,” inhibiting their curiosity “as a defense against structures of authority, dependency and interference” (Britzman, 2003, p. 5)? How do we open education up so our children are awake, alert, curious risk-takers – not numbed-out, dumbed-down avoidance seekers  – but dynamic learners taking the good risk of thinking and feeling in an environment that honors and values individuality. Social emotional learning in school promotes individuality as well as authentic learning.

Britzman, D.P. (2003). After-Education – Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, and Psychoanalytic Histories of Learning. New York: State University of New York Press.

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An example of the creative SEL classroom is an activity called Islands of Connection.

The facilitator tapes three 10ft x 3ft sheets of butcher block paper together and places them on the floor in the center of the room. Each student  is asked to create an island that represents what they feel they need to survive.

Once completed, the facilitator asks these questions:

  • How does it feel to be an island?
  • Can we grow into the person we want to be on an island?

The facilitator asks the group to use different color chalk to connect their island to every other island.  The different color chalk crisscross like a spider web showing a dynamic maze of interconnections.

The group is directed to color in the webs open space. Once done, they see there are roads which they are directed to write words or phrases on that reflect why connection is important to them.

Discussion follows about the need and value of human connection.

At each stage students are invited to share his or her process, feelings and insight. The group is asked to listen without judgment. The art speaks clearly and coherently. The group understands and experiences the value of connection visually, creatively and without the limitation of words.

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The group moves with awareness from the isolation of their own islands to acknowledging their need for connection. Throughout the process, the group dynamic shifts from protective separateness to a felt acknowledgment of the power and importance of human connection.

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